Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Christians in the country to pray for peace and progress as they embark on this year’s Lenten season. The President noted that Nigeria’s existence as one united country was a divine arrangement and that nothing should be done to break it apart. In a message to Nigerian…
Burnley on Saturday shocked nine-man Chelsea 3-2 in their opening game of the 2017/2018 English Premier League (EPL) season at Stamford Bridge.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that it was a terrible start to the season for the reigning champions as Skipper Gary Cahill was shown a straight red card after a very clumsy challenge on Steven Defour.
Chelsea were up against it from that moment on as they struggled to settle after the loss of Cahill in the 14th minute.
Burnley piled on the pressure on the hosts and had Coach Antonio Conte’s heart in his mouth when Sam Vokes nodded in the 19th minute.
Thankfully for the Chelsea boss the linesman had his flag raised for offside and the goal was disallowed.
It was, however, a sign of what was to come as the visitors opened scoring six minutes later following Vokes’ weak volley which crept into the far right corner of Thibaut Cortouis’ goal.
It was definitely not the start to a title defence Chelsea fans would have expected as Burnley took a shock lead.
With just five minutes to the break, Conte looked desperate to get his players in for a regroup but the reigning champions dropped further behind as Burnley grabbed a brilliant second in the 40th minute.
Stephen Ward chested down a ball over the defence before smashing a fierce drive with his left foot into the back of the net.
To the disgust of Conte, Burnley grabbed a third just before half time following a brilliant cross from deep by Defour as Vokes rose highest to head in.
It was indeed a splendid and one-sided first half for the visitors, who simply outplayed the 10-man reigning champions.
The Blues came out with renewed vigor in the second half, pressing their opponents as they looked to reduce the three-goal deficit, but the champions were still lacking in the final third.
New signing Alvaro Morata was introduced with an hour on the clock as he replaced Michy Batshuayi in a tactical substitution.
Morata had just 30 minutes to somehow help spark a revival from three-goals down and pulled one back in the 70th minute with a neat header, diving in to nod Willian’s cross into the far corner.
It was a brilliant debut goal for the striker who signed in the summer from Real Madrid.
The champions were looking much more of a threat and had the ball in the net again six minutes later but Morata who poked in Andreas Christensen’s shot at the far post was ruled offside.
It was a nervous time for Burnley fans as Chelsea continued to press. This time N’Golo Kante curled a shot from the edge of the area just over in the 80th minute.
But just when it looked like Chelsea were back in the game, they had another man sent off for, this time Cesc Fabregas was sent off for a second bookable offence.
The midfielder dived in late on Jack Cork and is shown a second yellow.
However, with two minutes left, Defender David Luiz produced a striker’s finish, volleying in from Morata’s cushioned header to set up a nervy end to a pulsating encounter.
Chelsea had one more opportunity to complete a famous comeback following a scramble in Burnley’s box in extra time but the Clarets stood firm and held on for an impressive 3-2 win.
In other results of matches also played on Saturday, Miguel Britos scored a controversial 93rd-minute equaliser for Watford as Liverpool were held 3-3 in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.
Huddersfield Town made a dream start to their debut season in the Premier League as new Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer endured a miserable first game with a 3-0 defeat.
Wayne Rooney scored the winning goal on his top-flight return to Everton after 13 years.
The 31-year-old, who left the club for Manchester United in 2004, headed in his 199th Premier League goal as the Toffees beat Stoke 1-0 at Goodison Park. (NAN)